Newcastle United forgotten man's future uncertain – but could he be set for Premier League squad reprieve?
New Premier League guidance on contract extensions could see Jack Colback handed a Newcastle United lifeline.
The former Sunderland midfielder is out of contract on June 30 - and as things stand is yet to be offered a new deal.
The 30-year-old was left out of Steve Bruce's 25-man Premier League squad last summer and chose to sit out the final year of his contract on Tyneside, having spent the previous 18 months on loan at Championship side Nottingham Forest.
The Echo understands Colback was set to be named in the United 25-man squad right up until the final 48 hours of the transfer window, with Andy Carroll and Emil Krafth walking through the door at St James's Park.
And Bruce was ready to hand Colback a start in the club's FA Cup campaign, with injury the only thing preventing the former England call-up an opportunity in the earlier rounds of the competition.
With Premier League rules on squad size potentially being relaxed and temporary 2019/20 season contract extensions given the green light by top flight clubs and officials, as long as details of deals are submitted before June 23 - the next few weeks could prove crucial for the Geordie's hopes of a United return.
Earlier this week a Premier League statement confirmed: "At Monday's Shareholders' meeting, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to be allowed to enter into short-term contract extensions with players whose deals are due to expire on 30 June of this year.
"As the UK government indicated on Monday its willingness for live sport to return behind closed doors from June 1, the Premier League is exploring paths to resuming the 2019/20 season after this date.
"Clubs were concerned over expiring player contracts and registration issues posed by the potential of the 2019/20 season extending beyond 30 June.
"So, it was agreed by all shareholders that clubs and players can mutually agree to extend their contracts beyond 30 June until the end of the season."
Colback has not kicked a ball for United since the final day Championship win over Barnsley in 2017. He was frozen out of the first-team setup by then boss Rafa Benitez that summer, having played an integral role in getting United back to the Premier League as champions.
A Colback return is unlikely to prove a positive move with the United faithful, but could act to plug any temporary gaps in the squad with Project Restart a real possibility next month and concerns over whether Matty Longstaff will commit his future to the club.
The Echo understands the player is yet to receive any guidance on his future from the club. The takeover saga with a change of manager as well as ownership, could have a bearing on the next steps in the player's career.
Having lived in Nottingham prior to lockdown, Colback is understood to be on Tyneside in preparation for a potential return to training next week.
United's players were reportedly subject to testing at the club's Benton training base today.
Colback is not the only player with contractual uncertainty hanging over his head – Longstaff, Rob Elliot, Carroll and Javier Manquillo are all set to see their current contracts end on June 30. Meanwhile, Danny Rose, Nabil Bentaleb and Valentino Lazaro are all still yet to have their loan deals from Tottenham Hotspur, Schalke 04 and Inter Milan extended.
A working date of Friday, June 12 has been pencilled in for a return of top flight football in England, although there has been considerable push-back from players, management and officials with some wanting a month 'pre-season' to prepare for the conclusion of the Premier League season.
On empowering club's to extend deals temporarily be adjusting registration regulations, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: "What we decided – obviously this issue has been highlighted and we’ve discussed it at the last two meetings – but we’ve been working as far as possible to ensure that clubs complete the season with the same squad they had prior to the suspension.
“What was agreed is that players can extend their contracts beyond June 30 until the end of the season but it must be agreed by both parties and a later date can be scheduled for that; no later than June 23.”
On the future of Longstaff, the player is set to wait to see if a proposed £300million takeover by Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners, Reuben Brothers and the financial power of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is given the go-ahead by the Premier League before making any decision on his future. No timeframe has been set for this decision, with rumours of further delays circling this week.
The club’s prospective owners are reportedly keen to address Longstaff’s contract situation. Longstaff, for his part, wants to stay at his boyhood club.
The 20-year-old had made 12 senior appearances – and scored three goals – by the time football was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A new deal for Sean Longstaff has been on the agenda at the club for more than a year.